Microsoft Debuts Windows Live Search

Microsoft early Wednesday took the wraps off an improved Live.com homepage complete with a beta of Windows Live Search, the successor to MSN Search. The Redmond company expects the new site to seriously challenge Google's dominance in the search market.

Windows Live Search utilizes advanced Web features to create a dynamic search experience. For example, users can preview search results on the site, adjust a slider bar to reveal more information on a result, and a "smart scroll" feature to display results without moving from page to page.

Microsoft's new search technology also scours more Web content, including blogs, RSS feeds and e-mails. The company also rolled out a new image search that features infinite scrolling, thumbnail-image-sizing customization, filmstrip view and the ability to see the full image without leaving the results page.

Windows Live Search is additionally linked up with MSN Shopping and MSN Spaces to provide integrated search results from those MSN properties. Other Windows Live services, such as Messenger and Mail, will feature the same search capabilities built in.

Customization plays a major role in the new search engine, Microsoft says. A feature called "Search Macros" enables users to save and share specific queries and search scopes. For example, a search could be limited to only a users favorite Web sites rather than the entire Internet.

A handful of Macros are currently available on Windows Live Search, and Microsoft plans to release a beta tool in the near future to enable creation of new Macros.

Live.com itself has also been bolstered with new themes, support for multiple pages based on interest, along with new and updated Gadgets. Gadgets are mini-applications that can run either in the Windows Vista Sidebar or on Live.com directly.

"We have done a tremendous amount on our infrastructure; live.com was built on our start.com incubation infrastructure. With this launch we've deployed a scaleable, geofederatable, higher performance backend which we're looking forward to growing in to," the Live.com team wrote on its Web log.

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